Jennifer Salazar loves teaching kids. But she didn’t just want to teach; she wanted to focus on urban education, going into America’s poorest neighborhoods and working with disadvantaged children.
For her, it’s a way of giving back. Salazar herself grew up in a low-income section of Brooklyn (she’s still a Yankees fan), where her father was a janitor and her mother was a homemaker. She received a Posse Scholarship to attend Wheaton, where she saw firsthand the value of passionate, dedicated educators.
“My professors invested in me,” she says. “I knew they cared about me, and that made all the difference. ”
In her history and education classes, her eyes were opened to inequalities in our public education system. And she was determined to change that.
After graduating from Wheaton, she pursued a master’s degree in education at Tufts University, with the aid of a Paresky Fellowship.
Upon receiving her master’s degree in 2011, she was immediately offered a position teaching 10th grade social studies at Boston Green Academy, a public charter school in South Boston.
She believes reforming our education system is not a choice, but a fundamental part of an ethical and just society.
And, for Salazar, the adventure continues: she just accepted a teaching position for sixth and seventh grade social studies at Hyde Leadership Charter School, which is in the Hunt’s Point neighborhood of the Bronx in New York. It is one of the poorest congressional districts in the United States; more than half the population lives below the poverty level.
“There are lots of struggles there,” says Salazar. “But there’s so much potential. I see it in the kids. I have faith in them. It’s the reason I became a teacher.”
Photo by Flynn Larsen